“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.”
So, the other morning, I woke up drenched and covered in sweat. I had a rough night that night; I tossed and turned, my mind just tumbled about in my sleep as I apparently worried about everything under the sun. The subconscious is funny that way, you see.
After checking to see if all of my body parts were present and accounted for, I got up and proceeded my merry way on to the bathroom to take a shower. I regaled my neighbors with my very own rendition of ‘O Solo Mio’, and most likely missed a few curses coming through the walls from the very neighbors I was serenading.
About an hour later, I planted myself on my rock outside, and flipped through my Daily Planner on my phone. I groaned inwardly, seeing how much I had planned for the day. Doctors. Check. Groceries. Check. Housework. Check. Supper at moms. Check. I took a deep breath, took a long puff of my cigarette and tried to calm my nerves down.
“People, huh?”, a highly agitated voice broke the blessed silence from my right. “Yes, people! Always people! People, people, people and moreeeeee people. Too. Many. Peoples!”
I rolled my eyes up, puffed away at my cancer stick, and tried to ignore Anxiety the best I could. But I shoulda known better. No one can ignore Anxiety. His highly agitated voice droned on, and my blood pressure slowly but surely rose as he continued to speak.
“So. Doc’s appointment at 1. Groceries between 3 and 4. Gotta make a meal for mom at 5. Oh, and don’t forget the OTHER things you put down there. Don’t forget your mask. Are you going to understand them? Yanno, can’t read lips or nothing if they have a mask over their faces. Don’t wanna ask them to speak up either. ‘Course, the Doc might complain about your weight or some old age disease, making you worry even more.”
I sighhhhhed, closed my eyes and tried to block out the prattle of Anxiety’s voice as it drones on and on. Yep, I thought to myself, I’m having an anxiety attack. I groaned inwardly and then cast my mind back to when it started. This morning! Last night! But why? I looked at my phone again and it dawned on me. I overdid myself. And this is my punishment! But no…wait…that’s not it…
A long pause, and once more, silence ruled the area. I smiled, and waited for the inevitable…
“……….Huh? Why you thanking me???”
“Thank you. You’re a good friend, really.”
Even more silence.
“Because you just reminded me what I need to do today. So…again…thank you.”
Blessed silence. My head was at peace.
“Uhh, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
I turned around and looked at my highly agitated friend. Dressed like me, as always. But yet unkempt in appearance. As always.
“Look, there is good anxiety, and then there is bad anxiety. But anxiety is in all of us. Everyone, no matter who it is, has anxiety. Sure, some has it bad, so bad they can’t cope, while others live with normal every day anxiety that we all deal with. But in the end, it’s just anxiety. Before we started putting labels on things and going ‘OH no! It’s anxiety!!! We are sick!!!’, people lived with anxiety, day in and day out, and lived their lives only the way they can. But really, anxiety is like an early warning signal of sorts, if you think about it.”
I chuckled. “It’s true, you know. If you weren’t constantly in my head, reminding me what I need to do, things wouldn’t get done. If you hadn’t acted out the night before my big test back in high school, I wouldn’t have aced it. If you hadn’t punched my gut, given me a chest pain, and told me something was very, very wrong with something, then I’d have just continued on my merry way, oblivious to whatever danger I was walking into. So, yes. Thank you.”
A long pause followed my explanation.
“Huh. So, I’m not, like, you know, a basketcase? A nut? Worrying about nothing? Like, I actually help?”, the not so agitated voice broke the silence, a tinge of hope peppering his words.
“Nah. In your own way, you tell me something is wrong, or you help prepare me for something that needs to be done and done right. Without you, I’d have made a lot more mistakes than I did. You may never make sense sometimes, but you never lie. When you get all acted up, you know, I gotta listen and try to understand what triggered you, and what made you act up. Because you are trying to tell me something, and I need to listen. You help me. I just need to learn how to listen and manage you better, that’s all.”
“Thank you.”, he responded, and quickly disappeared.
I breathed a sign of relief, and smiled again as I flipped my phone on to look at my chores for the day…
A few years ago, something happened that completely changed my life around. When I was roughly around 2 yrs of age, I was diagnosed with Petite Mal Epilepsy, a fairly common infant disorder that most often goes away as the infant grows up. I, however, had Petite Mal Epilepsy for most of my life.
Or so I thought.
When I started taking charge of myself and my own health, I, with the help of a social worker named Michelle, made an appointment with a neurologist to get to the bottom of the epilepsy. I did not know of the real triggers and what causes my seizures, and I needed to know because it did affect a great deal of my life up to that point. I stayed in the hospital with a box attached to my head, and in that time frame, I made the biggest discovery of my life.
Try as they might, the nurses couldn’t induce a seizure. At that time, I was unaware that anxiety was actually a thing, and did little to understand the cause and effects of anxiety. As I stayed in that hospital for a few days, my anxiety skyrocketed, and one night, I stared at the wall while several nurses surrounded me, trying to snap me out of my spell. I had a seizure.
Funny thing about that? The scans showed no signs of any neurlogical changes in my brain. That’s when the doctors realized that I no longer had Petite Mal Epilepsy, but instead, I have what they now call Psychosomatic Non Epileptic Seizures. PNES. It’s former name was Pseudo Seizures, but it was a misleading term because these kinds of seizures, although not neurological in origin, were not fake in any way, shape or form. Instead, it was my brain experiencing an anxiety attack, and imitating a seizure in the form of what I have experienced before.
With that kind of knowledge within my grasp, I have only experienced two….at the most…seizures within the last several years. Just two. And none at all within the last two or three years. N.O.N.E. And that alone lead me to believe that the brain is a mysterious thing indeed. I marveled at how easily it fooled me into thinking that I was having a seizure, when it was really just experiencing a panic attack.
The mind. It is truly a fascinating study. After this life changing event in my life, I began learning how to manage my anxiety. Which lead to a seizure-free life. Not only did I begin to understand how anxiety works, but I also began to understand that it wasn’t so much a mental health disorder, it simply is a part of us that we ignored for so long, thinking that it IS a disorder. That it was a sickness. That we were cursed to live with anxiety for the rest of our lives, burdened with a choice we did not make.
Anxiety can be a good thing, and in my case, it often is. It lead me to making the right decisions, if I learned to only listen to it. I began to see it as some form of an early warning signal; my subconscious trying to tell me something that my active mind refused to acknowledge; and in some ways, anxiety is, in it’s basic animalistic form, the Fight or Flight response all animals have.
Everyone’s anxiety is different. Some far more severe than others, and quite often is the reason why Anxiety is considered a disorder. It can and would affect our lives, there is no doubt about that. The greater severity of anxiety, the more crippling it can be in our lives. There’s no treatment for anxiety other than the usual, but I can say this…
Recognize your triggers.
Understand that it’s not so much a disease, but it’s your own mind telling you something.
And act on it, if you can. The quicker you take action, the sooner your anxiety attack ends. If you wait, it will only get worst. Action can, and will, defeat Anxiety every single time.
Work with it. Don’t fight against it. Drugs and alcohol doesn’t make it go away. Only you can.